You Gotta Believe

By Randall MellJune 21, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' Phil Mickelson believes.
You could see it in his eyes Sunday as he marched across Bethpage Black with his raucous legion of New York fans in tow.
You could see the notion that he can win this U.S. Open taking hold after his 35-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole made the earth quake when it hit the bottom of the cup at the end of the third round.
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson is seeking his first U.S. Open victory. (Getty Images)
With his electrifying finish at the 54th hole, and his promising start to the final round, Mickelson begins Monday radiating with confidence that he can script one of the greatest stories in U.S. Open history.
Mickelson may not be in full command of his game, but hes got something better going for him.
He believes he can win.
Just as importantly, so do all those New Yorkers trying to will him to victory.
That makes him dangerous.
Steve Stricker played with Mickelson in the third round and could feel power being transferred.
Its unbelievable, Stricker said. Ive never experienced anything like that. I think it even shocks him. Its just amazing how loud they are when he makes a birdie.
With that closing birdie in the third round, Mickelson pulled into a tie for fifth, six shots behind the 54-hole leader, Ricky Barnes.
With a simple pair of pars before the final round was suspended due to darkness, Mickelson climbed even closer, into a tie for third place and within five shots, thanks to Barnes bogey to start the final round.
Not bad considering Mickelson was 11 shots back after making the turn to the back nine in the third round.
Mickelsons third round was about as adventurous as a 1-under-par 69 gets in a U.S. Open.
With seven birdies, four bogeys and a double bogey, Mickelson bounced up and down the leaderboard.
Birdies at four of the final six holes turned his day around.
Ive been there and know what can happen in the final round when you start trying to protect the lead, said Mickelson, a three-time major championship winner. Anything can happen in the U.S. Open.
You could see Mickelsons confidence swelling as much as you could hear it in Sundays fading light. He starts Monday 16 holes from glory with only Glover and Barnes in front of him, neither of whom has ever won a major.
If there were 30 people ahead of me, I would have to shoot 8, 9 or 10 under par to have a chance, Mickelson said. There are two [players]. If I get a hot round going, I can get a little bit of momentum. Absolutely, I feel like I can make up the difference.
If Mickelson brings home the U.S. Open trophy to his ailing wife, Amy, their story will rank among the most dramatic in U.S. Open history. It will rank somewhere with Francis Ouimets winning as a 20-year-old amateur in 1913, with Ben Hogans comeback in 1950 after a nearly fatal car accident and Tiger Woods victory last year on a broken leg and blown-out knee.
Mickelson said that before he left his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif., Amy told him to bring back the trophy. Thats on the minds of these New Yorkers. You can hear it in how many folks shout out that theyre praying for Amy as she deals with breast cancer and the treatments that await. You can see it in the pink ribbons on display here.
The crowds kept Mickelson going.
Its just incredible, Mickelson said.
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